How practical is it to drive across Europe in Jaguar's EV pioneer? We saddle up for the long-haul
Julian Rendell
12 October 2019

The maths is simple. Frankfurt and its biennial motor show lie 501 miles from Autocar Towers in Twickenham, according to Google Maps. This Jaguar I-Pace, Autocar’s long-term test car, has an official range of 298 miles. So you can work out for yourself how many re-charge stops might be needed – in theory – to get to Frankfurt. But we’re more interested in how such a road trip for one of the new breed of long-range electric cars like the I-Pace will pan out in practice. 

What makes the journey a feasible proposition this year is the growing number of fast-charging stations that promise to reload the I-Pace’s 90kWh battery in under an hour. We are going to use exclusively the fast-charger network run by Ionity, newly established by car makers as their version of Tesla’s Supercharger network and intended to facilitate exactly what Autocar is attempting: a cross-Continent journey by battery-electric vehicle (BEV). 

Planning the journey is a challenge in itself. Ionity’s chargers are placed around 85 to 100 miles apart and, given that the I-Pace’s real-world range appears to be 200 miles, it’s a tricky balance to decide how far to push the stops. 

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In the planning stage, I opt for a conservative strategy of nine fast-charge stops in total for a round trip of around 1000 miles. But during the journey itself, I’m left wishing we could drop a couple of stops to speed up progress. 

More experience of driving the I-Pace in the UK would have given me the confidence to push the stops, but there are a few unknowns about range, plus an unmovable deadline to attend a press conference in Frankfurt set by news editor Lawrence Allan, so a stranding is out of the question. 

We also don’t know how the Ionity fast-charge hardware and I-Pace on-board electronics will work together. Will the battery be able to take a 100% charge in a sensible time? 

Good news at the first Ionity charge-up on the M20 services at Maidstone. All goes well with the charger technology, which works smoothly after the New Motion RFID card unlocks the pump and electrons flow at a rate of just under 1kWh per minute. I pump in 36kWh in 48 minutes and then head towards Belgium with a 187-mile range, enough for a 60-mile buffer, and a confident feeling about the drive to Shell Wetteren. The sole glitch is locating the chargers inside the service area because there are no signs. This emerges as an ongoing challenge: none of the five charging areas I use has signs. It doesn’t matter at some because they can be seen easily, but at others, it’s a matter of driving around hoping to find them. 

Exiting the Chunnel, I feel a sense of relief that the Continental part of the journey can start in earnest and the I-Pace settles into the traffic at around 70-80mph, giving us a chance to absorb how brilliant a cruiser it is. The seats are really comfortable, the ride is supple yet planted and progress is super-quiet, with only the gentle rush of air over the body and a little tyre noise audible. It definitely feels like a luxury car. 

I arrive at Shell Wetteren with 50 miles of range and 25% battery, more confirmation that 200 miles is the real-world range to plan around. 

After six hours on the go, I decide on a longer stop than is maybe ideal for rapid progress. So with a relaxed 55-minute charge, the I-Pace gets 57kWh of charge and a 93% battery: 190 miles of range. 

At this point – 4pm on Sunday with another fast-charge in the schedule – I wish that my overnight stop in Liège, 92 miles away, had ‘destination charging’ for a slow overnight top-up. Instead, I must stop on the outskirts of Liège to take sufficient range for the 106-mile drive on Monday morning to my first charge-up in Germany. 

My mood sinks as I arrive at Ionity’s Bierset site near Liège airport. Located at a truck stop, the shop/toilet block is shut, the chargers are located on the truck side of the parking area and it feels unfriendly and desolate. The smell of the drains is also overpowering. 

I’m grateful the technology once more works smoothly, but putting myself in the mindset of the owner of an £80k cutting-edge BEV, I think I’d avoid this site in future. Unfortunately, I’m committed to using it on my return journey. 

Well rested overnight, I’m on the road by 7am on Monday, day two, with that immovable deadline of the press conference at 1.30pm. 

The I-Pace and Ionity charging network are now real business tools. Driving conditions are much more serious, too, with the autobahn packed with cars and trucks single-mindedly heading to their destinations. 

Heavy rush-hour traffic around Cologne puts me behind schedule and not for the first time do I curse the I-Pace’s slow-witted sat-nav as I struggle to locate Ionity’s Bad Honnef charging station, approached via a loop of local roads and tricky junctions, well away from the A9 autobahn south of Bonn. 

Again, the charger works a treat and the I-Pace drinks up the charge. This is a long stop as I take on 44kWh because my Frankfurt hotel has no destination charging so my return to the UK has to start with charge already picked up in Bad Honnef. 

The discrepancy between charging rates at different locations also comes into focus: Wetteren was a 55-minute charge for 57kWh; Bad Honnef is 51 minutes for 44kWh. 

We arrive at Frankfurt, and with work at the show out of the way, the next task is a photo shoot with Autocar snapper Olgun Kordal. This reduces the car’s range to 57 miles, with 44 miles to the first Ionity fast-charger on the return leg to the UK. 

I probably shouldn’t be concerned and should trust in the technology, but I can’t shake the range anxiety. Economy driving mode is selected alongside 80km/h (50mph) on the cruise control to preserve range. This works and I roll into Bingen services in euphoric mood – with 25 miles still in the battery! 

I’m learning lessons about cross-continent BEV driving. It may well be better to roll at a slower pace and save time otherwise taken up by charging. I just need an in-car app to do the maths for me. 

The drive across Germany now takes on a sweet rhythm. I’m on a northwesterly route home through the Eifel mountains, traffic is light and the speeds are good. On one derestricted and gently downhill section, there’s even a chance to max the I-Pace at an indicated 129mph, 4mph above the official top speed. 

Obviously, charge depletes at a faster rate, but there’s no ill effect on the three-stop strategy as I arrive in Ghent for a final overnight stop. 

A pleasant surprise comes in the shape of an unused 7kW charger in the hotel car park, so I grab a chance to ‘destination charge’, urged on by the hotelier, who is an electric car enthusiast, and top up the range to a full 200 miles for the run back to London, where I arrive at lunchtime on Thursday. 

In many ways, this trip was so very remarkable. Just two years ago, it would have been impractical. Yet the speed at which Ionity has set up its network now makes it a reality and the charging hardware worked 100% reliably for me. 

The cost was low, too. At €8 per charge, total energy costs were £64 for 1064 miles. A 50mpg diesel car would have cost twice that. Time is a concern, though. Seven hours were taken up by charging, but smarter planning might reduce that. 

Better signage would enhance ease of use and fewer truck stop locations would improve the experience. There’s also work to be done on intervals between chargers and I reckon at least two fewer stops would have been possible given a wider choice of locations. A long-haul trip like this would also be much more relaxing with guaranteed destination charging because that would have eliminated another two stops. 

But the biggest improvement in the future will be integrating in-car sat-nav with on-board range data and charger location finding to make planning the trip and responding on route to battery charge levels much easier. 

Right now, cross-Continental motoring is here and doable with the Ionity network. For Autocar readers who haven’t attempted such a trip, it’s a new challenge that’s worth accepting.

TRACING IONITY'S ROOTS

Ionity is a joint venture between the BMW Group, Daimler, Ford, the Volkswagen Group and latest member Hyundai-Kia. Formed in October 2017, it is about one-third of the way towards its target of opening 400 fast-charging locations, capable of up to 350kW output, across Europe by next year. Fifty locations are planned for the UK, with fast-charging sites in Maidstone and Gretna Green now operational.

Today, each session costs €8 on the Continent and £8 in the UK – you can pay directly via your smartphone throughout Europe – but pence-per-kWh charging is coming, probably in the next six months.

Read more

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Comments
54

12 October 2019

A little while ago the company I work for purchsed a couple of I-Paces as company cars to be used by various members of staff on a daily basis.

Last week, I got a lift in the back of one for a 5 mile ride. There was five of us in the car including the driver. So I can't speak as a driver.

My brief impressions as a passenger: pros: the car felt solid and dash seems to be made of good materials. Cons: the ride was really bumpy on mixed surfaces (this was surprising as magazine tests have praised the car's ride) and the rear passenger space was relatively cramped considering the I-Pace is a very big hatch. There were three of us in the back, all average sized adults, and the 5 mile ride was not pleseant at all for any of us in the back.

12 October 2019
58kW average charge speed at Ionity is incredibly poor in 2019.
​The eTron will do a steady 150kW all the way to 80%. The EQC will average maybe 90kW to 80%.
Even a Kona/eNiro will charge at 60-75kW.
The Teslas tend to taper hard after 60% but are saved by class-leading efficiency.
Combined with the abysmal range and legendarily poor Jaguar reliability, this is not an appealling buy.

13 October 2019

I-Pace should charge upto 100kW for the first 80% so something must be wrong with the charger/i-pace combination. Also charging to 80% (40mins) is preferable as the charge rate drops dramatically to save the battery, so better planning on the drivers part is required so less time is spent at a charger.

13 October 2019

What car reliability index

Results for luxury cars aged up to five years old

RankMake and modelScore1. Jaguar XJ 2010-on94.3%2.Mercedes E-Class 2009-201692.8%3.BMW 5 Series 2017-on92.6%4.Audi A6 2011-201891.6%5.Jaguar XF 2015-on89.7%6.Mercedes E-Class 2016-on89.2%7.BMW 5 Series 2010-201788.4%8.Mercedes S-Class 2014-on88.1%9.Jaguar XF 2007-201586.8%

14 October 2019

the i-pace is waiting a sw upgrade that will speed up the charge power till, approx, 120kw.

12 October 2019

is this kind of article meant to promote the I-Pace and the take up of EVs. You just can’t put a positive spin on a 500 mile journey that requires hours of stoppages. If you’d have run it against a Jaguar XF diesel you’d quite possibly have done the journey non-stop and made diesel look like the radical fuel of the future. 

My conclusion from your article is that we are definitely not at a stage, yet, where an EV is suitable for this kind of journey. 

On the flip side, if you’d driven both cars around a city centre, the EV would look like the radical vision of the future. 

12 October 2019
Yes, you're missing the fact that several EVs will manage this journey fine, just not the i-Pace.
Bjørn Nyland has conducted a load of 1000km tests 
The times are:
10:10 Tesla Model 3 Peformance. And this was before they upgraded to 200kW max charge rate.
10:20 Tesla Model X Raven.
10:20 Audi e-tron 55.
10:55 Tesla Model S P85. 
11:00 Merc EQC 400.
11:30 Hyundai Kona 64.
12:15 Hyundai Ioniq 28.
15:30 Nissan Leaf 62.
God knows what the time for an i-Pace would be. By the standards of this test, 20 hours. But test conditions are not directly comparable.
These SUV-class EVs are thirsty and need very fast charging to do long trips without repeated long rest stops.

12 October 2019
harf wrote:

is this kind of article meant to promote the I-Pace and the take up of EVs. You just can’t put a positive spin on a 500 mile journey that requires hours of stoppages. If you’d have run it against a Jaguar XF diesel you’d quite possibly have done the journey non-stop and made diesel look like the radical fuel of the future. 

My conclusion from your article is that we are definitely not at a stage, yet, where an EV is suitable for this kind of journey. 

On the flip side, if you’d driven both cars around a city centre, the EV would look like the radical vision of the future. 

 

The business model of any magazine his to sell advertising space. So the purpose of the article is to get views and make money, not to promote EVs. Motoring magazines have a long history of taking cars on journeys that, when you look at the total number of miles driven, no one actually does on any kind of scale. In reality the journey would have been done by driving an iPace to the airport and then a hire car at the other end or even a train. The reality his if you are doing this journey by car you aren't doing it in a hurry so the fuel stops aren't a problem and even if I can do 500 miles in one go my wife and kids can't and in reality a stop every 200 miles is the MAXIMUM I'd go before a 1/2 hour stop.

12 October 2019
SamVimes1972 wrote:
harf wrote:

is this kind of article meant to promote the I-Pace and the take up of EVs. You just can’t put a positive spin on a 500 mile journey that requires hours of stoppages. If you’d have run it against a Jaguar XF diesel you’d quite possibly have done the journey non-stop and made diesel look like the radical fuel of the future. 

My conclusion from your article is that we are definitely not at a stage, yet, where an EV is suitable for this kind of journey. 

On the flip side, if you’d driven both cars around a city centre, the EV would look like the radical vision of the future. 

 

The business model of any magazine his to sell advertising space. So the purpose of the article is to get views and make money, not to promote EVs. Motoring magazines have a long history of taking cars on journeys that, when you look at the total number of miles driven, no one actually does on any kind of scale. In reality the journey would have been done by driving an iPace to the airport and then a hire car at the other end or even a train. The reality his if you are doing this journey by car you aren't doing it in a hurry so the fuel stops aren't a problem and even if I can do 500 miles in one go my wife and kids can't and in reality a stop every 200 miles is the MAXIMUM I'd go before a 1/2 hour stop.

 

Autocar readers do not buy it, based on your supposition that it is published purely as a business proposition. This magazine has been going since 1895 and mainly caters for automobile enthusiasts. It should and does print articles that appeal to a broad range of readers and their interests and if you feel they are failing, then I suggest you start up a print/online competitor and let us all see just how well you do.

 

On your poorly thought out (if at all) view on long road trips...if OEM's were to delete them from their testing programmes, we the customers would end up being the ones who found out about their long term ownership failings. Whatever your own limitations, there are not universally shared by everyone else and to conclude...range anxiety is a very real and problematic obstacle for potential owners, who are simply not all convinced that EVs that can cover ten times the distance their commute requires, are yet enough to quell their concerns.

12 October 2019

Take it slowly, you simply don't understand business or driving.

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